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Portraits From The Place Where The King Lives… The Photography of SEYDOU KEÏTA

Seydou Keïta

It’s easy to take a photo, but what really made a difference was that I always knew how to find the right position, and I was never wrong. Their head slightly turned, a serious face, the position of the hands . . . I was capable of making someone look really good.

Seydou Keïta

Seydou Keïta (1921—2001) was born in Bamako, Mali, and captured the people of Bamako in the 1950s in a series of breathtaking portraits. In the home of the world’s first university and the world’s richest ruler, he took pictures of people who were fast approaching their independence from French colonizers and still practicing the traditions of their ancestors. These photos are subtle in their complexity—it’s in the way Keïta arranges simple props, layers patterns, and immortalizes the relaxed, content expressions of his subjects. He ran a studio that went far beyond the basic practice of portraiture. Keïta’s eye for the balance of light and shadow, form and focus, means his photos are more works of art than they are family or association photos. Below check out a huge gallery of Seydou Keïta’s portraits from the land of Mansa Musa and Timbuktu…

At the age of 14, Seydou Keïta was given a camera by his uncle and decided that he would be a photographer. He taught himself the tricks of the trade, never went to college, never met foreign photographers, and never saw any of the pictures they took.

Deutsche Boerse Photography Foundation
Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

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